What I liked about Spenser was the way in which you fused history with fantasy. What research did you undertake to ensure the historical references were accurate?
I did a huge amount of research, because I had to know as much as possible about the Elizabethan period in England, Ireland, and France, as well as the historical figures involved. And remember, the work has taken twenty-seven years to finish. When I started, there was no internet; I had to do research in university libraries, not through Google. I have seven huge binders of material xeroxed and carefully tagged. As well, in the actual creation I am now on my tenth workbook, apart from the digital files.
Actual things were relatively simple—to find how stained glass windows were constructed and appeared in Spenser’s time; to understand what a sailing vessel was like, its sails, its crew, its structure; to learn about the Irish sea and the ports; to become absorbed in what the buildings and costumes were; Christmas customs; medicine; the countries. There is very little knowledge of Spenser himself, so that I made surmises based on what was known; my Spenser is probably more fictional than real, but the conclusions I made were based on facts as well. I did, of course, create the final book of The Fairie Queene, the windows described actually based on Jung’s archetypal figures (a small license I gave myself). The Christmas play is my adaptation of what could have happened then (minus the satire of the pope, of course). The massacre of the Spaniards is directly taken from the report made of the affair. And the Latin phrases are actually the ones that British schoolboys used to have to learn, which is deliberate. Ben Jonson criticized Shakespeare for knowing “no Latin and less Greek”; I portray him in the scene as still learning Latin, much to the amusement of Spenser and Bacon, who wrote well in the language and who make quiet jokes between them in their responses.
As for the fantasy, you will have to wait for Book Three to get the whole story, when the three thousand years find their conclusion.
The book is written in Spenserian stanzas. Was this a challenge for you or do you prefer this style of writing?
Actually, the whole trilogy is a challenge, because I take the poetic style of the time and adapt it slightly to modern times. For example, Odysseus is deliberately written in the style that most translations have been seen over the past decades; Spenser is written in his form, but where he usually end-stops a stanza, I can run the idea without strain into the following stanza, so that the dialogue and description can be closer to us. I have deliberately left the numbering of the stanzas as he did. As well, in the agonizing memories of Spenser about the death of his son I have strained the stanzas to the limit to force the cries that he made stand out. If you want to know how that sounds, you may soon be able to hear them in the audio book that hopefully will appear in the near future. As for Archer, the styles range from the Romantic Period until today. Thus, you will find that even the verse ranges over the three thousand years.
I understand that you have been a professor, actor, director, playwright, and poet. How has your experience in these fields helped you write your books in the On the River of Time series?
A good question. All of these have helped me. First of all, I have an English Honours degree in which I had to take a comprehensive exam on all of English literature up to 1950 (excluding, of course at that time, all Canadian and American literature). I have taught English courses, seminar courses in Ibsen and Theatre Aesthetics, a first-year philosophy course, and, of course, courses in acting for professional and amateur actors. As an actor I have to learn, comprehend, and explore a character deeply, both in mind and body. As a director I have to know the world in which the play takes place; what the incidents expose of the characters; the structure of the action of the play and its conclusion; the period in which it takes place; and how to bring the actor to fulfill the demands of the character. As a playwright I have to conceive of the characters and their journey; write the scenes that are important for the revelations of the play; find the essence of each character’s thoughts, speech and action; place all this in an appropriate setting for the theatre and the audience; and as a poet sense the music of our language, the evocation of an experience, the poetic style needed, the deep influence of an idea, and the urge which forces me to express it.
All of these things in my background have enriched my vision and whatever skill I have. They have allowed me to find a way through to express through three thousand years what we all still experience, give into, or struggle with, in our lives
Book three in your series follows Archer, the fictional renegade actor/director in present-day Canada. When will that book be available and what can readers expect in the story?
I am almost finished writing it. My editor, with whom I have worked fifty years, is brilliant and patient and rigorous, keeping me always on the right track. We are in the twelfth draft of the work at the moment, but it should be the second-last. For reasons I won’t go into, it will probably come out next year.
What can you expect? A modern actor/director who is charismatic and searching, who has spent his life exploring and touring his events. The book is divided into three “Acts” (like chapters, but this is, after all, about theatre); Act One deals with his tour of King Lear in mask and his research on an event that will deal with all of Canadian history as far back as it goes; Act Two deals with the creation and tour of the event; Act Three deals with the company invited to Ireland to play the event in its Festivals, what happens there, and the repercussions later in Canada. You may suspect that I have some knowledge of all this; you might want to look at my website: http://www.carlhare.ca
Odysseus continues the story in Homer’s Odyssey and recounts the Greek hero’s final quest to settle his debt with Poseidon. What inspired you to write a story that continues Odysseus’s journey?
It all starts with the impetus for the trilogy which I mention in my introduction: How can one of our greatest English poets hold simultaneously in his mind the great virtues and genocide? To explore this question I finally came up with the trilogy dealing with men on journeys important to them and which can involve actions that involve questions in themselves. As well, I wanted to show the universality of these issues by covering the three thousand years in which great works have explored their periods. Odysseus was the best starting point, particularly that second voyage barely hinted at in the Odyssey. He is particularly interesting because he is not only a hero but because he not only does noble actions but shows darker traits and ambivalence as well; and the continual ambiguous actions of the gods reveals a society uncertain always of its future.
I enjoyed Odysseus’s character in this book. What were some driving ideals behind the way you developed his character?
It’s interesting to explore what the creative process is about. There is a very good scholarly examination of how the character has been seen over the ages: W.B. Stanford’s The Ulysses Theme. I could understand why his character had initiated so many responses; but that is only the beginning. I don’t write from principles, I write to describe the character living in my mind (as an actor, I actually create the character physically), and although the structure has to be there (in this case, it went through five changes in the chart), when I write I am actually describing what I’m living in my mind.
Much like in the original epic Odysseus encounters many obstacles along his path. What was the writing process like to bring these to life using your poetic style?
The first choice must be the style in which the story will be written, which involves not only the time in which it first occurred, when ancient Greek hexameters and flexibility of where words could be placed in the sentence are impossible to duplicate in English, but also this present time and this present audience with very different mores, etc. I decided to use the present form that some translators have used (although there have been some others, such as Christopher Logue’s brilliant modern adaptation of the original). I also decided to let the events and characters reveal themselves, and although I still used some of the original epic’s conventions, I tried to let the story reveal itself, but in a poetic fashion. In this I kept in my mind the memory of a Doctoral graduate from Greece who was examining various translations of Oedipus Rex and attended some of my seminars on theatre esthetics. She told me that when Aeschylus’ plays were performed in its ancient Greek, the language was so powerful that the hair would rise on the necks of the performers. I am far more humble in what I expect my poetry to do, although it is poetry, and I “sing” the action as I imagine it.
This is book one in your On The River of Time series. What can readers expect in book two, Spenser?
It might be interesting to know that in the early drafts I wrote successively the cantos of each of the three books: Canto One of Odysseus, then Canto One of Spenser, then Canto One of Archer, and so on. I realized early on that with so many cantos to write it would take an extraordinarily long time, and so I forced myself to write a canto a month, at least thirty pages, and in the different styles necessary. As a result, the stories themselves are entirely separate (sly hint—not altogether) and roughly are structured in the same way. Odysseus was a mythical figure; Spenser is an historical figure; Archer is a fictional character. But knowledge of the historical Spenser is sparse, and although most of what I write is true to history, there is also some speculative. The book explores the last four months of Spenser’s life, which was filled with tragedy and memories of his past life. It also brings to life the Elizabethan court and an Ireland filled with strife. It also suggests an answer to the question first posed that started the trilogy.
The Trojan War was the greatest catastrophe of the ancient world. We are told that it devastated Europe and Asia and plunged the known world into a Dark Age that lasted 500 years. This is the ‘Story of Troy’. The truth has never been established – until now!
30 years of painstaking investigative research has finally resolved this 3,000 year-old mystery. Author and Historian, Bernard Jones, uncovers the evidence piece by piece, separating fact from fiction, and unlocking for us the secrets of the past. Unbelievably, Bernard’s research showed that the Trojan War could not have taken place in the Aegean area, or even in the Mediterranean world. This evidence turns our accepted geography on its head and leads us on a fascinating journey of discovery back to the real world in which the Trojans lived. Here, we discover who the Greeks and the Trojans really were, and the parts they played in Homer’s Bronze Age world.
Secret knowledge concealed in the Iliad reveals Homer’s work to be a genuine historical record. Yet, only in the corrected Bronze Age environment can it be understood. Deciphering Homer’s coded information becomes the key to finding the location of the Trojan War and the Bronze Age city of Troy itself. Lost histories also tell the whole story of the migrations that took place following the Trojan War and the nations that arose out of the ashes of Troy. The records of these nations independently verify the author’s findings, and they overturn the theory of a ‘Dark Age’.
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Mylee in the Mirror explores young romance and school drama with an infusion of Greek Mythology. What were some themes you wanted to continue from your first book and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
Well, in Daisy, Bold & Beautiful I wanted to create a situation for my main character that would demonstrate the same moral of the story that I find within Persephone’s story – it is important to stand up for yourself. The story in Mylee In The Mirror is very different, but I arrived at it in the same manner – I wanted a story that would demonstrate the moral of the story I find in Aphrodite’s story – you can’t force someone to love someone else. I hope to do that with all the books in this series – decide on a moral of the story for each god/goddess featured in the book and create a story that demonstrates that moral.
I enjoyed Ty and My’s characters and interactions. What was the inspiration for their relationship?
Hmmm… well, I didn’t really have a specific relationship in mind when I was writing it. I developed each character (for instance, Ty is loose combination of my [real life] Trampoline & Tumbling teammate, Ty, my dad, and my brother, Will), then had them interact the way I imagined those characters would interact with each other. I have a friend, Peter, who I joke around with, kinda like Mylee and Ty joked around together, but My & Ty were friends longer than Pete and I have been and they’re closer than Pete and I are.
How has your writing developed and changed from book one in your Greek Mythology Fantasy Series?
I don’t know exactly how my writing developed and changed from Daisy to Mylee, but this book was really different to write because Daisy was all about 6th graders and I was a 6th grader when I was writing it, so I could really relate to what they were doing and how they were acting. Mylee is about ninth graders AND Ty was my first male main character. Obviously, I don’t know anything about being a boy, and certainly not a 9th grade boy, so I had to talk with my brother quite a bit to decide what Ty would do and how he would act. I also talked quite a bit with my mom about the two moms in the story and Grammy Jean. Grammy Jean was based on my real-life great grandmother, who passed away last winter. The character wasn’t exactly like my Grammy Jean, but pretty close. So, I guess I can say I worked more and worked harder this time trying to understand motivations to make the characters feel really real, know what I mean?
What are you currently writing and when will it be published?
I’m just starting work on book 3. This will feature my first god (instead of a goddess), and the main character will be a boy this time. I hope to be done with it sometime this spring, so hopefully it’ll be published sometime in the summer. I’ve been busy, though, because this is competition season for both my gymnastics team and my tramp & tumble team. Last weekend we traveled down to Oregon for a meet and this weekend we fly to Reno, Nevada for another one. Between all that and school there isn’t a ton of time for writing, but I’m really anxious to share this next story, so I’ll find the time! 😊
Freshman year is just starting, and already Mylee fears her family is falling apart. She’s not interested in dating or any of the high-school drama it brings, but that’s just what she gets when Sam, the most popular guy at school, invites her to the Homecoming dance. Mylee needs advice, so she summons Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, her secret confidant.
Tyler is worried about Mylee, his best friend and teammate. Already sad about her family woes, he’s livid that Slimeball Sam is trying to ooze his way into her life. And she seems to be falling for Sam’s act! Worse, Ty is worried all this attention from such a popular guy will place Mylee officially out of his league.
What does an ancient Greek goddess know about modern teenage romance? Can My and Ty save their friendship and discover what matters most?
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The High Court picks up after the events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos being tried for their crimes. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book one and what were some new ideas you wanted to explore?
I definitely wanted to carry over themes of parenting, or lack thereof. So much of mythology is deities behaving badly. and in Kronos we have the ultimate crappy parent. And how. But I also wanted to contrast that style of parenting with Rhea’s more maternal side. But other parent/ child relationships arise as well.
Additionally, I wanted to carry forward this idea of duality and that nothing is ever as simple as it appears to be initially. I wanted to confuse the readers’ loyalties a bit in that regard.
New ideas I wanted pursue were the ideas of justice and what that meant. And retribution versus restraint.
A race of giants attack the students and force them to flee while the giants grow stronger with every attack. What was the inspiration for this race of giants?
In Greek mythology, there actually was a Gigantomachy, or war between gods and giants. Chronologically, it occurred after the Olympians-Titans war (Titanomachy). I wanted to sneak a representation of it into book 2 seeing as though to many readers a war between gods and giants might have been anti-climactic after all the egos and storylines of the Titanomachy.
Zeus continues to be an intriguing character with multiple layers. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Firstly, thank you for that. I’m happy that he came out so well in your eyes. One thing I was very cognizant about was the perception of Zeus, the classic king of the pantheon. He doesn’t have the best reputation. Haha. I wanted to build a view toward more humble beginnings for him and show the natural teen angst, uncertainty, and discomfort with coming of age.
Where will book three in the Sky Throne series take readers and when will it be available?
Sadly, the third book in the series didn’t get picked up for publication. 😦
High atop Mount Olympus, as dawn breaks on a new academic term, normalcy returns to campus following a harrowing expedition into The Underworld to rescue kidnapped students.
Zeus and his fellow Olympians now prepare to testify in The High Court where Hyperion will be tried for the attack on Crete and death of Anytos and Kronos will stand trial for the murder of MO Prep’s Headmaster Ouranos.
As the trial draws near, the MO Prep students and faculty are besieged repeatedly by a race of gargantuan stone and earth giants. Under heavy assault, the Olympians are forced to flee to the volcanic island of Limnos to regroup. Meanwhile, a toxic poison Zeus has carried with him since a prior fight with a dragoness creeps toward his brain.
In a race against time and beasts, Zeus and his friends must find a way to survive not only the toxin ravaging Zeus’ body, but also the giants who grow stronger after every attack, and somehow make it to the The High Court alive.
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A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.
In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.
And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.
If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.
Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D
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The sequel to the wonderful debut series The Sky Throne, we find young Zeus struggling with forces from beyond Mount Olympus in The High Court. The book picks up after there has been a lull after the tumultuous events of the previous book, with Hyperion and Kronos both being tried for crimes and will be hopefully brought to justice soon. It is when these trials grow near that the school, which is already underway with a new semester, when giants attack and force the occupants to flee. Zeus in the meantime is poisoned and will have to find a cure, before he succumbs the toxin.
Ledbetter is not letting his heroes off easy in this next book and as is tradition with second books of a series, the stakes are even higher than before. It is clear that his style and refinement in the craft is better handled than in the previous book. The characterization of Zeus also seems to be maturing somewhat, which fits because the characters are getting slightly older as time on Olympus passes.
The world building of this series continues to amaze, since not since Percy Jackson has an author created such a self-contained world of mythology and used it to such effect. It would be derivative to compare it to the likes of Harry Potter or other classic series where the majority of action and story happens at a school, but Ledbetter uses this setting to his advantage at every turn.
The only true issues that come up in this book, is the pacing. It’s hard to say if this book is the middle book of trilogy or another episode of a series, since there are places where the plot kind of peters out. This is made up for the stylized action sequences, but it is still something to be wary of when moving forward through the narrative.
All in all, Ledbetter has written another great installment in his Greek mythology series and anyone who enjoys fantastical settings and compelling, fun characters would be remiss to skip this series. Looking forward to the next entry of The Sky Throne.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B07F453DQ3
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Evan is a normal twenty-first century man who works as an architect. However, to interrupt his daily routine, none other than Zeus himself, has decided to transport Evan to the sixth century BCE. Evan now travels across ancient Greece with his companions, including Atlanteans, a high priestess, and his friend, Dexion, who has the power to see into the future. All of this is for a mighty cause, Evan has been chosen by Zeus to unite two powerful relics in order to save the Gods from extinction.
Stuck in the sixth century BCE Evan longs to return home. Given his precarious position between times, the juxtaposition of his wants against his reality serves to highlight the stark differences between the comfort of home that Evan is used to and what he is currently facing. For instance, walking across a sandy plain in sandals verses the want for a motorbike to make short work of the distance. His modern life’s influence over his worldview often leaves him homesick, but he must complete his mission. On the other hand, his life back home gives him ways to solve the problems he faces in the sixth century BCE, taking ideas from the pop-culture of his own time and bringing them into the past to aid his quest. This fusion of time periods makes for some brilliant innovations and cross-overs between what we as the reader understand to be ancient Greece, and the modern day.
The Labyrinthine Journey is book two in Luciana Cavallaro’s Servant of the Gods series and it follows on fluently with the events of the previous book with references here and there to book one. Something striking about the series is the relationship between mortals and Gods. With whole chapters dedicated to the musings of God’s and their society it gives the reader an insight into their intentions. Furthermore, the book proposes an alternative viewpoint on the beginnings of Christendom. The Greek Gods fear that they will lose their dominance in light of a God-sent child being born that will potentially lead to the widespread belief in a single God instead of the current pantheon.
This retelling of the birth of Christ from the God’s perspective explains why Zeus wants the relics united – to maintain his and the other Gods’ significance. However, there are some Gods trying to interfere with the mission and stop Evan’s and his companions’ journey. Evan searches ancient Greece, already in possession of the first relic, for the second to unite the two. The perilous journey over a treacherous landscape naturally reminds one of the epics of Homer.
The Labyrinthine Journey was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five out of five for its sophisticated and inventive retelling of the well-known and widespread story of Christ and its ability to connect it to the overarching quest narrative seamlessly. Luciana Cavallaro’s prose fits the story perfectly, making the journey truly epic. Furthermore, the fusion of God’s, monsters, ancient philosophers, magical ancient relics and even time travel, leads to unexpected twists and turns throughout the novel.
Pages: 311 | ASIN: B075QGZQP9
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